Saturday, December 31, 2011

Warning: System Memory Usage High


A sudden announcement from my computer speakers appeared to be due to a bug in Rizone Memory Booster (MB).  The solution seemed to be to change, rename, or delete the MP3 files in MB's Sounds folder.  I used this problem as an opportunity to look at some related freeware.


I was working along as usual in Windows 7, and suddenly a voice announced from my computer speakers, "Warning:  System memory usage high!"  I had recently reinstalled Windows and all sorts of software, so it wasn't immediately obvious what piece of hardware or software would keep repeating this announcement every few minutes.  I ran a search and saw that nobody else seemed to be reporting exactly this problem, so I thought I had probably better log, here, my efforts to resolve it.

I first checked to see whether the warning was correct.  There were all sorts of things to know about memory, such as whether I was using 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems and hardware.  Getting an accurate and informative impression of the current status of my system could be tricky.  I was using the Windows 7 Task Manager (Start > Run > taskmgr.exe > Performance tab) and the Windows 7 Resource Monitor (Start > Run > perfmon.exe > Open Resource Monitor), but I wasn't entirely sure what they were telling me.  I thought maybe another tool would help to clarify the situation, so I did a search on CNET.

Among the several highly rated options there, it seemed that Iolo's System Mechanic Free might give me a good memory tool and might incidentally address some other needs.  On Iolo's website, I saw that their "standard" version of System Mechanic cost $40, so I was a little concerned that I might actually be installing shareware.  Not that I shouldn't pay for useful software, but I was already running behind in that department, and there were other programs of long service that had first dibs on my financial resources.  It developed, in any case, that flipping the switch from "Disabled" to "Enabled" on System Mechanic's option to "Automatically repair low memory problems" brought up a prompt to upgrade to the $40 version.  System Mechanic did have manual cleanup and reporting options.  For instance, by the time I got to the point of writing these words, its IntelliStatus report more or less agreed with Task Manager that about 70% of my RAM was free, and the adjacent Optimize button opened up a memory defragmentation process that ran for maybe 10 seconds and claimed to recover another 5% of RAM.  I decided to keep System Mechanic for a while and play with it some more.  Using Windows Explorer, I added a link to System Mechanic to the Startup folder in my Start Menu, so that System Mechanic's options window would open up when I started the computer.

At some point, I noticed that CNET's editors and users ranked Advanced SystemCare Free pretty highly.  It was another program, like System Mechanic, for cleaning and optimizing the system.  It appeared to be a lot more popular.  I had used a previous version for years, but I think I fell away from it when I transitioned from Windows XP to Windows 7.  I decided to try it too.  It seemed likely that I would join the crowd and prefer it over System Mechanic.

For present purposes, an automatic memory optimizer appeared to be what I needed, so I went back to CNET and looked at the popular MemInfo.  Its purpose seemed to be to provide fast, system-tray access to memory information and a manual RAM defragmenter.  But then I saw the widely used Moo0 SystemMonitor Portable.  I tried it and liked it.  It took me a minute to catch on to it.  I had to right-click on its onscreen display to get options.  It was easier to access and more configurable than Windows 7 Task Manager or Resource Monitor; it took less screen space; and it could be made to minimize to the system tray.  It didn't seem to have a measure of graphics performance, though, so it seemed I would have to use the Windows Experience Index for that (Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools).

At some point in this inquiry, I remembered that I actually had already installed an automatic memory optimizer:  Rizonesoft's portable Rizone Memory Booster.  I hadn't tried to tweak it or anything; it had just sort of faded into the background or, more accurately, the system tray.  But now I thought, well, of course, that had to be where this phantom voice was coming from.  I right-clicked on its icon, which now seemed terribly obvious there in the tray, and looked at its options.  Yes, it did have an option to "Play warning every 3 minutes if load exceeds 80" (percent, I assumed).  The default values of 3 and 80 were adjustable.  But, oddly, this option was turned off.  I turned it on and changed it to 1% and clicked Apply.  Nothing happened.  I retried with 30%.  Still nothing.  Memory Booster's main screen said 50% of memory was used, so I should have gotten something.  Ah, but when I closed out of the dialog altogether and let Memory Booster retreat to the system tray, the voice came back.  "Warning:  system memory usage high."  So that was the culprit.  The program's readme file seemed to indicate that there had been a previous issue with saving the sound settings, so maybe the fix for that problem had created this new one where apparently the program would sometimes turn on the sound on its own initiative.

I played with Memory Booster (MB) for a few minutes and then sent Rizonesoft a link to this blog post.  MB had options to Optimize or Defrag memory.  Its writeup and an Addictive Tips review agreed that, unlike many other memory optimizers, MB's Optimize option used a safe method, involving "a Windows API call."  This would reportedly leave programs and data in memory and, as such, would only free up a minor amount of memory -- but it might also cure memory leaks and unfreeze programs.  By contrast, the writeup said that the Defrag option was an experimental (presumably potentially unstable) function that, unlike Optimize, would force most of the contents of memory into the pagefile (i.e., the portion of hard drive space set aside as a memory overflow area).  It seemed that Defrag was the more extreme option, carrying a risk of (temporarily) screwing up the system and requiring a system reboot.

The Defrag option was not included in the version that Addictive Tips reviewed.  Possibly it was previously a feature available only in the Gold ($14.95) version of MB.  Then again, I wasn't entirely sure whether a gold version continued to exist.  The writeup (dated July 7, 2011) said that MB "is now part of the Doors system," and explained how to install MB by installing Doors.  But I hadn't had to do that.  Maybe things had changed since the time of that writeup.  I wasn't familiar with the Doors system.  It seemed to be Linux-related.  So that part was a mystery.  One source had said that MB had only a nine-day trial period.  Maybe that had changed too -- maybe it had been removed or lengthened.  Rizonesoft's webpage said, "Demand no nonsense freeware," so apparently there were no worries there, unless the Doors situation had changed that.

I did like the program -- it was informative, and it seemed to be accurate, and its Intelligent Memory Optimization seemed to be working.  While some might not understand or appreciate the sarcasm on the website or in the readme file, it seemed that the programmer was responsible and meant to be helpful.

It occurred to me that I might be able to fix the sound problem myself.  I looked into the program's Sounds subfolder.  There, I saw five MP3 files.  One was called mem-high.mp3.  I played it.  Sure enough, that was the one I'd been hearing.  I created a subfolder called "Originals" and put these MP3s into it.  I wondered whether identically named replacement MP3 files would work.  First, I inserted a song MP3 into the Sounds subfolder, renamed as my new mem-high.mp3 file.  At first it didn't seem to be working, but I fiddled with it for a few minutes, and then it did.  Of course, I realized immediately that this had some prank possibilities.  But for my purposes, I removed all MP3s from the Sounds folder.  The program didn't crash when it failed to find a mem-high.mp3 file to play, and it seemed to continue to work.  I didn't want MB to make sounds, so that was the way I left it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011: Best Videos of the Year

The contents of this post have been merged into a new Best Videos Ever post.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Documenting Computer Work Onscreen - Second Try

I had previously used my Shotshooter.bat batch file to capture screenshots once or more per second, and had combined them into an IrfanView slideshow .exe to display a timelapse account of what I had been doing on the computer during a certain period of time.  I preferred to create a regular video file rather than an executable, and I also wanted to be able to add music, narration, or other audio.  So I tried again.

The problem wasn't video capture per se.  I had purchased a copy of Debut for that, after mixed results with freeware alternatives.  The problem was getting from the raw Debut output to the final video.  When I would import the Debut .avi into a video editor like Adobe Premiere Elements or CyberLink PowerDirector, the video quality would be seriously degraded.  It was possibly a problem with a simple setting in the editing program, but I hadn't yet figured out the solution.  At this point, for whatever reason, the resulting video of events on my computer's monitor was so poor as to be unreadable.

But let me back up.  Here's how I started.  I decided to try capturing my work in writing an essay.  It would wind up being a one-page document, so the whole thing was visible onscreen in Microsoft Word.  I had Word set to remember changes, so after hours of editing, I held down the Ctrl-Z key combination to keep undoing changes until I was back at the beginning.  (Before doing that, I saved a copy of the text.  One false keystroke would have destroyed the trail, and my essay would have been lost.)  When I was back at the beginning, I started the screen capture, using Debut.  Then, in Word, I held down the Ctrl-Y key combination to redo everything I had done, at a very rapid pace, while Debut was capturing.  I think I had set Debut to capture at seven frames per second (fps), so as to keep the .avi file somewhat smaller than it would have been at 30 fps.  When it was done, I stopped Debut and saved the .avi.

Now came the hard part.  Adobe and CyberLink weren't the only ones having problems with the Debut .avi output.  Media Player Classic (MPC) would likewise display that .avi in a severely distorted form.  In other trials, MPC played the audio but gave me only a black screen for the video.  QuickTime did just the opposite, playing the video but crapping out on the audio after a few seconds.  But for some reason, VLC and Microsoft's Windows Media Player (WMP) had no problem with it.  It was not clear why.  I would have guessed that my codecs needed updating, but I had just installed the latest K-Lite Mega Pack.

After much playing around, I found that VirtualDub was able to add an audio track, adjust the length of the video to the length of that audio track, and produce a relatively small .avi (but, regrettably, not an .mpg or some other compressed format) that WMP would play.  This video was about four minutes long and, at a 250 kbps setting (Microsoft Video 1, quality 100), it was about 70MB.  That was still huge in comparison to the IrfanView output, but it was nice to have the audio option.  At that bitrate, the video contained fade-like artifacts.  That is, when I deleted or changed some text in the original video, it faded out rather than just instantly disappearing.  It actually wasn't a bad effect, and I didn't want to upload a 700MB video, so I left it at that for now.

There seemed to be some artistic possibilities for this technique.  At some points, the beat of the music would coincide with the disappearance of lines of text, as if there were a rhythm to the editing.  Maybe there was, in some cosmic sense.

The remaining question was whether anyone else would be able to view this video.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out on YouTube.  So I uploaded and tried it.  It looked OK in full-screen mode on YouTube, viewed in Firefox and also in Chrome.  I downloaded it from YouTube, using NetVideoHunter.  The download was in .mp4 format.  It still didn't play right in WMP, but it played better in QuickTime, and it was less than half the size of the .avi I had uploaded.  So I thought perhaps I could have uploaded the 700MB version and used YouTube to compress it for me.

I still didn't have a straightforward process for putting high-quality screen capture video into a format that I could edit in a normal video editing program like Adobe Premiere Elements.  It seemed that, next time, I might try recording my original video in something other than Debut, to explore the possibility that that particular program had saved my video in an odd format that Premiere Elements and other programs couldn't handle.  I could also explore rapid Shotshooter screenshots, at least to the extent that my computer would be able to save multiple screenshots per second.  Then maybe I could also try using Premiere Elements, instead of IrfanView, to stitch those screenshots together into a time-compressed but visually high-quality production to which I could also add audio.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thunderbird: The file Mailbox [filename] Cannot Be Found

I was using Thunderbird 3.1.16 in Windows 7.  I had a Hotmail account set up in T-bird, with the usual folders (Inbox, Drafts, etc.), and I also had a folder called E-mail Archive set up under Local Folders.  I was in the habit of removing messages from Hotmail's Inbox, when I was done with them, and storing them in the E-mail Archive folder.

Then I ran into a problem.  I clicked on a message in the E-mail Archive local folder and saw that there was no message body.  I could still see the From, To, Date, and all that, but the text of the message was gone.  At about the same time, I got an error message.  It said something like, "The file mailbox:///C|/Users[filename] cannot be found.  Please check the location and try again."

I ran a search.  It appeared that this was a pretty rare problem.  A different search led to a MozillaZine page that led me to think the problem was that I had not been compacting the E-mail Archive folder often enough.  The page said that compacting was a way to keep folders in good shape.  If I saw an email message with a weird date (e.g., sometime in 1969), that was a sign that the folder had become corrupted and should have been compacted.  I had indeed seen a message or two like that.  I had already set automatic compacting (Tools > Options > Advanced > Network & Disk Space), but apparently my value of 50MB (i.e., "Compact folders when it will save over 50000 KB") was too high.  So now I set that to 5MB instead.  It sounded like I would now be getting compaction prompts more frequently.  That webpage had advice on how to respond to this error message if the problem was with the Inbox, but that wasn't my problem.

Another MozillaZine page offered tips on how to set up and maintain Thunderbird.  I had stayed with version 3 instead of updating to a newer version of Thunderbird (currently 8.0 was the lastest) because I was using some add-ons that weren't compatible with the newer versions.  But this webpage seemed to offer a way around that.  So one possibility at this point was to upgrade and see if that would somehow solve the E-mail Archive folder problem as well.

Before doing that, it looked like there might be something I could do to retrieve the E-mail Archive folder within my existing setup.  One thread gave me the impression that an email folder might consist of a pair of files, working together.  One would have a name like REMC#1.msf, and the other would be REMC#1 (without the .msf extension).  I used Everything to search for *.msf files.  My system had 34 of them, all in the Thunderbird folder.  Originally, it seemed, the default installation location for Thunderbird in Windows 7 was at C:\Users\<account>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\[8 random characters].default, but I had moved that folder to drive D.  Specifically, I saw an E-mail Archive.msf file in that folder; but when I searched again for that filename, there wasn't an accompanying E-mail Archive file (without the extension).  I did have a backup of one, though.  It was big -- 500MB, apparently containing my tons of emails that should have been compacted.  So now I closed Thunderbird, copied that backup file (i.e., E-mail Archive) to the Thunderbird folder alongside E-mail Archive.msf, moved (instead of deleting) the E-mail Archive.msf as advised, and started T-bird again.

While doing the necessary screwing around in vague efforts to find a possible solution, I had already closed T-bird once before, after discovering the problem with the E-mail Archive folder, and when I started T-bird again, that folder was completely gone.  My guess was that the *. file (that is, E-mail Archive, without the extension) was responsible for telling T-bird that it should display a folder called E-mail Archive.  So when that non-extension file disappeared, so did Thunderbird's indication that I was supposed to have a Local Folders folder called E-mail Archive.

But now that I had copied the E-mail Archive *. file from backup to the Thunderbird folder, I did once again have an E-mail Archive folder visible under Local Folders.  I clicked on it.  The status bar said "Loading message . . ." for a minute, and then it was ready to show me the message bodies (i.e., the text of my email messages) once again.  So, wow, problem solved.  I dragged a boatload of messages from the E-mail Archive folder to another local folder.  I did that because it seemed that the E-mail Archive folder had gotten too big to work properly, so I wanted to reduce its contents before doing anything else.

Some months earlier, I had undertaken a project to remove old emails from Thunderbird and put them into individual PDF files.  It was convenient to have recent emails in T-bird, where I could quickly search for and reply to them.  But as messages got older, it was less likely that I would be using them for that sort of search and reply.  I decided to create a Thunderbird local folder called Ready to Archive, and I moved all messages older than six months into that folder.  I was a little superstitious about the E-mail Archive folder, so I decided to replace it with a new folder called Email Archive (without the hyphen). So I moved the messages that were less than six months old into Email Archive.  Now the E-mail Archive folder was empty.  Searches in Everything now showed that my new folders -- Ready to Archive and Email Archive -- were a couple hundred megabytes each.  Together, their sizes came close to the total size of the old E-mail Archive folder, and the combined numbers of emails in those folders (as displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the Thunderbird window) added up to approximately the correct total.  (I didn't think of recording the exact number before moving those items out of the old E-mail Archive folder.)  So it looked like things had worked out.  (Everything showed that the old E-mail Archive folder was still huge, but I guessed that compaction would probably shrink it down to almost nothing, if I had bothered to compact it.)

Deleting the E-mail Archive folder was not as easy as I thought it should be.  This folder had a different icon than the ones I had just created.  Maybe that explained why there was no right-click Delete option for this folder, and the Delete key didn't work.  I went into this folder's right-click > Properties and saw that there was a Repair Folder button that, according to the information provided there, might repair the .msf index file.  Nice to know, but I didn't need it anymore.  I closed Thunderbird, went into Everything, deleted the E-mail Archive and E-mail Archive.msf files, and restarted Thunderbird.  Now the E-mail Archive folder was gone, and the new Email Archive and Ready to Archive folders seemed to be working properly.

I closed Thunderbird, backed up the Thunderbird folder, and decided that my next projects in this area would be, first, to see if the advice cited above would work -- if I could upgrade T-bird while keeping my add-ons -- and, second, to take another shot at a hopefully streamlined process for that project (above) of converting old emails into PDFs.

Thunderbird: Upgrading While Keeping Incompatible Extensions

I was using Thunderbird 3.1.16.  I wanted to upgrade to the current version, which was Thunderbird 8.0.  In 3.1.16, I was using two add-ons that, I feared, would not be compatible with 8.0.  Those two extensions were ImportExportTools and Remove Duplicate Messages.  (I also had AttachmentExtractor, but it was apparently nonfunctioning.)  I had found a MozillaZine webpage that suggested a way to make extensions work even if they were supposedly incompatible.  So now I decided to see if that advice would work for me.

I started by installing T-bird 8.0.  During the installation process, it asked me if I wanted to keep my add-ons.  I said yes.  When the installation was done, Thunderbird started.  I went into Tools > Add-ons.  This opened the Add-ons Manager.  It displayed all three add-ons as being ready to go. 

I don't recall what happened next.  Apparently I didn't need those extensions for a couple of months.  When I returned to them, I found that they were labeled as incompatible with Thunderbird 8.0.  But when I upgraded to T-bird 10.0, it looked like they were all set to work.  I used Remove Duplicate Messages (Alternate), and it seemed to work.  End of issue, at least for now.

Converting Email (EML) Files to PDF - Another (Partial) Try

Once before, I had converted individual email messages in EML format (from Thunderbird) to PDF format.  That had been a long and complicated process that I'd had to revisit a few weeks later.  It was now time to export some more emails from T-bird.  I decided to look for a simpler approach.

In the first stage of this inquiry, I was working with some EML files that had already been exported.  So this post starts halfway through the process.  The ordinary starting point, exporting emails from T-bird, appears later in this post.

Conversion Approaches

A thread gave me some ideas to play with.  It seemed that an EML, renamed to an HTM, could be opened in Internet browsers (e.g., Firefox) and also in editors (e.g.,  Microsoft Word, Wordpad).  Unfortunately, an email's header, containing the most recent sender, recipient, date, and subject information, was not inclined to print properly.  Some of the programs reviewed in the previous post would print the header with funky colors and other formatting stuff I didn't want.  Some would also produce tiny print.

I was able to produce better-looking output by changing the EML to an HTM extension and opening it in Notepad.  At the end of each line in the header, and twice more after the header, I inserted <br /> and then saved it.  Now it would open in Firefox with a halfway decent appearance.  There were also some lines in the header that I wanted to remove, technical lines other than the customary To, From, Date, and Subject lines.

The question was how to automate these changes.  I saw that Notepad++ would do changes for all opened files, but I didn't want to have to open large numbers of emails.  I found indications that a one-line Perl command and also an editor called TexFinderX would change all occurrences of certain text within multiple documents, but I didn't want to change all occurrences.  I wanted to change the first occurrence of "From:" to be "<br />From:" and likewise with Date and Subject, and I wanted to make other changes as well.

A search led to another Perl command that would apparently perform at least some of these tasks.  It was tempting to try to pick up enough Perl fluency to make that command work.  I decided, though, that it would be better to start by learning Perl more thoroughly (someday), so as to have a clearer understanding of what this command might or might not be doing inside some large number of files.  The search led, similarly, to various SED and AWK commands, with the same reservations on my end.

For some reason, it felt safer to use a utility programmed to achieve the same thing as those command-line approaches, even though I would still not be able to see what was being changed.  Maybe it was just reassuring to think that someone with programming knowledge was trying to solve the problem.  It helped to find a Gizmo recommendation for ReplaceText (formerly BK ReplaceEm).  My faith was shaken, however, when I saw that the Gizmo recommendation, dated October 17, 2011, was pointing to a webpage that said ReplaceText was no longer supported and "has known problems with some Windows 7 installations."  Not the end of the world, but also not ideal.  Gizmo's second recommendation was A.F.9, which appeared to have been last updated in 2002.  It seemed I might have to come up with some other approach.

Dealing with Headers

Another problem I was dealing with was that not all emails had the same kind of header.  Some had at least a dozen lines, with references to things like "X-Message-Delivery," where others had a smaller set of header lines.  It appeared that a fully automated approach could easily make a mess.  I noticed, for instance, that the Birdie conversion program would just run multiple lines together, in files with some kinds of headers.

Having spent a lot of time undoing messes caused by the previous EML conversion process, I decided to take a slower and more cautious approach, at least for starters.  I began with FIND commands, on the Windows command line, designed to distinguish EML files with different kinds of headers.  These FIND commands ran into Access Denied errors, resolved in a separate post.

It turned out that emails could contain a variety of header fields.  Some (e.g., Date, From, Subject) were essential and self-explanatory.  Others (e.g., Content-Type) were evidently common but were not ordinarily displayed in email readers (e.g., Outlook, Hotmail, Thunderbird).  Another category was the X-field.  According to one source, "X-fields are experimental [though evidently X was intended to stand for "extension," not "experimental"] fields added by email clients or servers and may be useful valid information or may be forged."  Things seemed to have changed since 1993, when someone seems to have felt that X-fields were to be "strongly discouraged."  At this point, they were widely used.  I had seen a number of them.  They were also called X-headers.  There was apparently no authoritative list of them; people were seemingly free to invent them as they saw fit, perhaps by using ordinary email programs (e.g., Eudora).  I found lists of X-headers for Usenet and listserv posts.  After some hunting, I did finally find a list of X-headers that might appear in email messages, as well as a discussion of standard HTTP header fields.  By this point, though, it was clear that any such list had to be open-ended.  Even that lengthy list did not contain some of the X-headers that appeared in one of the first emails I looked it (i.e., headers of the X-Message variety).  I found no clear indication of what headers might appear in a legitimate email message.

So apparently I was not going to be able to rely on someone's preconceived list of headers, as a guide to removing the unwanted ones from a large number of emails en masse (perhaps using some tool like TexFinderX, above).  The most reliable approach would seemingly require me to identify the header fields actually used in the emails I wanted to convert.  There did not seem to be an automated way to do that.  Some emails had HTML codes or empty lines dividing the two, but others did not.  I worked up an approach using screenshots, one per file (viewed in Notepad), to give me an impression of those codes.  But attempts to use optical character recognition (OCR) software on those screenshots did not give me an ideally reliable indication, in text, of the header contents.

It seemed that I probably had the ability to use macros in Word to eliminate unwanted headers and to reposition the wanted headers within the body of the email message, so as to produce a good appearance when the file was then printed to PDF.  (I was using Bullzip as my PDF printer.)  I decided to approach that project by whittling down the size of the messages -- that is, by removing attachments first.

PDFing the Attachments

I had a sample set of 46 EML files.  I was not sure how many had attachments.  A look at some of them in Notepad suggested that not all EMLs announced the presence of attachments in the same way.  It did seem, though that a certain text string would be found in most cases where an attachment existed.  That string was:

Content-Disposition: attachment;
On that starting hint, I ran a FIND command to see which of these 46 EMLs appeared to have attachments:
find /i /c "Content-Disposition: attachment;" "D:\Emails\*" > Attachlist.txt
Attachlist.txt gave me output like this:
---------- D:\EMAILS\FILENAME.EML: 1 
apparently indicating that FILENAME.EML contained one occurrence of the Content-Disposition text string.  It said that maybe a third of the files had one such occurrence, with the rest having none.  An exception:  one file contained two occurrences.  I looked at it.  It seemed to be a case of a forwarded message, with the ATT00001.htm filename that I had often observed but never did understand.  The message was displayed in the EML, but was also apparently attached in that ATT format.  My guess was that the best approach would be to keep everything up to the last occurrence of the Content-Disposition string.

I used Excel to convert Attachlist.txt to a batch file that would move the files containing Content-Disposition to a separate folder.  Then I opened all of the EMLs to see how accurate this FIND command was.  It appeared that I had found the key to distinguishing those files that did contain attachments:  the ones with "Content-Disposition: attachment;" did contain attachments, and the others did not.

I opened the EMLs containing attachments and manually printed their attachments as PDFs, with names that would help me link them to the emails later.  Some of them were extraneous winmail.dat attachments that I ignored.  Some were already PDFs and thus didn't need to be printed to PDF.  So now, in that separate folder, I had about a dozen EMLs that contained attachments, and about a half-dozen attachments that I had just PDFed from those EMLs.  I wanted to convert those EMLs to PDF first, and separately from the larger group of non-attachment EMLs, so as not to get confused as to which emails the attachments belonged to.  (More precise naming of the PDFs would have alleviated that concern, but would have taken more time.)  So now it was time to figure out a solution for the EMLs themselves.

Removing Attachment-Related Material from EMLs

My original plan was to get the EML into Microsoft Word, where I could write macros to manipulate the text in useful ways.  If I just opened an EML in Word, it would appear without its header.  That is, it would not look like an ordinary email, as viewed in Thunderbird or Outlook.  I could get around that problem by opening Word and setting it to Options > General tab > Confirm conversion at Open, and then open the EML as Plain Text, but that would be an extra delay.  With a lot of emails, it could be cumbersome.

I wanted to start by removing the contents of the emails that contained attachments, starting at the point of the last occurrence of "Content-Disposition: attachment."  Experimentation revealed that EMLs so truncated would still open and look fine in Thunderbird, and now they wouldn't have all that attachment material to prevent them from functioning like HTML files.  If they had more than one attachment, an attachment notice would still appear at the bottom of the Thunderbird EML screen, but I was OK with that.

It occurred to me that it might be possible to find a text editor with macro capabilities, so as to handle multiple tasks without having to cycle through multiple programs.  This led to a separate search for a suitable text editor.  In a development that would doubtless provoke some to cheer and others to weep, I wound up with Emacs.  In that process, I did manage to develop an Emacs macro that would eliminate, from an EML file, the post-HTML attachment material.

I was only working with a dozen or so EMLs in that pilot test.  I wound up combining the extracted attachments and manually produced PDF printouts of the truncated EMLs (viewed in Thunderbird) manually, so as to remove this potentially complicating part of the larger EML-to-PDF project.

Regular EMLs:  A First Pass in Emacs

Now I was able to focus on the headers, without worrying about attachments.  I had a group of 34 EMLs, with various kinds of headers, that I wanted to manipulate into printable HTMs.  I opened 15 of them in Notepad and took a look.  I decided to take them in batches.  The first kind, the simplest, had "To: " as its very first four characters.  These seemed to follow a pattern of separate lines for To, Date, Subject, and From lines, which I would keep, followed by Content-type, MIME-Version, and Content-transfer-encoding lines, which I would discard.  The four keeper lines would be moved down into the text, immediately after the BODY tag, with <br /> tags added for line breaks as needed.  I manually edited one of these in that way, opened it as an HTM, and it looked good.

As I thought about it some more, I thought that possibly a better strategy would be to write a macro that would go down to the <BODY> tag and then search upwards for the desired tags (From, To, etc.) and delete everything else.  And then, as I thought about it still more, I realized that all of the above were beyond my present Emacs ability.  I would get there ... but not today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Moving Bookmarks to the Start Menu

I was using Firefox 7.0.1 in Windows 7.  I had created a customized Start Menu that contained not only the shortcuts to installed programs, but also the full contents of portable programs.  I had saved that Start Menu to a drive other than drive C, so that it would survive if I reinstalled or upgraded Windows.  So then my preferred arrangement of shortcuts and programs in my customized Start Menu would also survive.  I could also carry it around on a USB thumb drive and use it on other computers, at least for my portables and for those installed programs that they had installed in the same (default) locations on drive C.

In Firefox, I had a lot of bookmarks. (If I'd had them in Internet Explorer or some other browser, I probably could have imported them into Firefox.)  I wasn't really happy with my existing bookmark arrangement.  It occurred to me that I could incorporate the bookmarks into my custom Start Menu.  That way, my bookmarks would be portable too, and my web-based tools would be in the same place as my installed and portable tools.  Within the Start Menu, I could then sort the web links into subfolders.  For instance, the ones that had to do with multimedia could go into the Multimedia folder along with my image editing programs.  This would eliminate the task of coordinating bookmarks among various browsers.  Also, when I discovered a cool new bit of freeware that I didn't actually need right then, I wouldn't have to download and keep a copy that would eventually become outdated, or that I would forget what it did or why I had ever downloaded it in the first place.  Instead, I could just put into my Start Menu a link to the webpage that explained the program.

There would be some drawbacks as well.  It might be harder to detect duplicates in some cases.  Also, I might have to drill down through more levels of a Start Menu than of a Bookmarks folder to get where I wanted to go.  Still, since my existing approach to bookmarks did not work, I decided the advantages of a new approach would probably outweigh the disadvantages.

I didn't want to convert my bookmarks into a single HTML file.  As I had previously learned, such a file would have required constant updating and rearrangement, so as to put links in the desired order.  To clarify, the idea was taht I would save the bookmarks as individual links (shortcuts) that I could see in Windows Explorer.

To make that happen, I tried using the Bookmarks manager in Firefox (Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks).  I found that I could cut and paste, or drag, individual bookmarks from the manager (or from the Bookmarks toolbar) to the Start Menu in Windows Explorer.  But if I tried to move multiple bookmarks at once, it didn't work.  The manager didn't give me an option of exporting bookmarks as individual link files.  There also didn't seem to be any way of bulk-handling Bookmark subfolders containing bookmarks.  I searched and saw various suggestions and requests involving other browsers, but as far as I could tell neither Chrome, Opera, nor Internet Explorer had an option to mass-export favorites or bookmarks as individual URL files.  A search of Firefox add-ons yielded nothing.

Some of my bookmarks were years old.  Before exporting them, whether in bulk or individually, I wanted to verify that the bookmarked website was still active.  To do this, I used the CheckPlaces add-on.  I had to go into the Firefox > Tools > Add-Ons menu to run it.  Within maybe five minutes, it concluded that I had 4,325 bookmarks; and of those, it said I had 1,395 duplicates.  This was not a surprise; my bookmarks folder was a screwed-up accumulation of years of repeated attempts at organization.  I told CheckPlaces to delete all duplicates.  For the other errors it found, I canceled out and went back to the CheckPlaces starting menu.  I changed Concurrency from 10 to 5, in case my relatively slow Internet connection was producing false errors in attempts to reach webpages.  I turned off "Load favicons" and ran it again.  Oddly, it still found 1,395 duplicates within 4,325 total bookmarks.  There wasn't a user's manual.  It turned out that I had to click the OK button to make the deletion permanent.  I did that, and then ran CheckPlaces again.  This time, it found only 1,711 bookmarks.  That didn't add up.  When I told it to delete duplicates, did that mean it deleted all copies of a duplicated bookmark?  Just then, Xmarks popped up and told me that my set of bookmarks on the computer was significantly smaller than my backup set on their server -- but they said I now had 1,866 bookmarks, not 1,711.  I decided to download the Xmarks backup and start over with CheckPlaces, this time paying closer attention to what it was deleting.  Spot checks suggested that it had done the sensible thing and deleted duplicates, but not all copies -- that is, if A and B matched, it looked like it deleted only one of them, not both.  So that was good.  The larger-than-expected number of deletions appeared to be due to the fact that I had three or more copies of some bookmarks.  Next, the CheckPlaces list of supposedly "Questionable" websites seemed to called for manual inspection: some were indeed duds, but others weren't. But then it looked like a webpage had to return a 301 error in order to get onto that list; and I found that a 301 error meant that the page had been moved but that there would typically be a forwarding address. So I ran the option, in CheckPlaces, to Fix All 301s.  Spot checks (and the age of many links) also suggested that I might just go ahead and delete the ones that CheckPlaces had identified as Failed for one reason or another.  I reran CheckPlaces a couple of times, deleting a few more duplicates and failed links.  In my final run, my original set of 4,325 bookmarks had shrunk to 1,322 -- still a lot, but more manageable.

So I had somewhat shrunk my list of bookmarks.  But I still had the main problem of getting them from Firefox to Windows Explorer.  How was I going to do that?  I thought of opening the bookmarks and then copying from the History manager instead, but in Firefox 8.0.1 that behaved the same as the Bookmark manager. Another possibility might have been to go ahead and export the bookmarks to an HTML file, one per bookmark folder; use Snap Links or Multi Links to open all of the links on that page; and then drag the icon from the Firefox address bar to the appropriate Windows Explorer folder, for each webpage that opened successfully.

But then I discovered that the Firefox bookmark manager (Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks) would allow me to do the same thing more easily.  For the bookmarks that were in the Bookmarks Toolbar, I could select a bunch of links within a folder, right-click on them, and choose Open All in Tabs.  This way, I could see what was in those webpages, and decide if I really needed to save a link to them (using the same approach of dragging the link to Windows Explorer).  Then I could delete those that I had opened, and thereby gradually whittle down the accumulated mess that my Firefox bookmarks had become.  If I wanted to have a list of bookmarks in Firefox, I would still have the option of recreating it by opening and bookmarking a bunch of links from the Start Menu.

So I dragged all my bookmarks to the Bookmarks Toolbar and began opening them and manually dragging links to a single folder that I called "Unsorted Bookmarks," from where I would further sort them into various places in my Start Menu.  I decided that I would probably do a better job of this if I did it gradually, sorting just a few bookmarks at a time, paying careful attention rather than racing through it.  So I added a line to a batch file that was scheduled to run regularly on my computer.  That line would open a Windows Explorer session focused on that Unsorted Bookmarks folder, as a reminder to me.  So now, every day or week or however often I had scheduled that batch file, that Windows Explorer session would be one of the things that would start up, reminding me that it was time to examine another 10 or 20 bookmarks in Firefox.  At this point, then, it seemed that the project was pretty clearly in view, and it would just take a while to finish.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Windows 7 CHKDSK /R: Corrupt MFT: False Alarm

I was using Windows 7.  I rebooted with the Windows 7 program DVD, went into the System Recovery Options, and selected Command Prompt.  At the prompt, I checked each partition on my drive with CHKDSK /R.

There were five partitions.  For the first two, no problem.  On the third one, CHKDSK ran into problems partway through.  I don't remember the exact problem or wording, but as I recall it happened in the first of the five stages of partition checking.  It would give me an error message after getting partway through, and then quit.  I ran it again and noticed that it seemed to be progressing further through the partition, so I kept running it.  Once or twice, it seemed to regress, but I figured it was cleaning up something from the previous round.  Eventually it did complete the partition check.

So I moved on to the fourth partition.  Now, however, I got an error message.  I didn't write it down, but according to the multiple webpages I consulted for information on how to resolve it, from a Google search, the message was something like this:

Corrupt master file table. Windows will attempt to recover master file table from disk.

Windows cannot recover master file table. CHKDSK aborted.

And it wasn't just on that one partition.  I was now getting that error message on every partition on that drive -- including the ones that had just passed CHKDSK with no problems -- but I wasn't getting any such message on the other drive that I had in that computer.

If I hadn't made a backup just before running CHKDSK, the suggested solution would apparently have been to try recovering my data with something like TestDisk.  But before doing that, or wiping the drive and recreating my partitions and restoring the data from backup, I took a look with GParted, which I usually ran by booting from an Ubuntu live CD.  It didn't see any problems.  I rebooted with the Windows 7 CD and ran CHKDSK /R again.  Now it didn't see any problems either, on any of the five partitions.  So wiping the drive and recovering or restoring data would apparently have been unnecessary.  I wondered whether the process of retrying multiple times (or the condition that made it necessary to retry) on that third partition had somehow confused CHKDSK or my drive.

I hadn't experienced this before.  Possibly it was something unusual about my Windows 7 DVD, or about that particular bootup.  Another possibility was that maybe I should not have been running two separate sessions of CHKDSK at the same time.  That is, the System Recovery Options dialog would let me keep clicking on the Command Prompt option to open additional windows.  (I used Alt-Tab to switch between them.)  So I was running CHKDSK /R in each of two separate command windows.  I had one session working on the partitions on the first drive, and the other session working on the partitions on the second drive.  I figured they were independent of each other.  I had done this before without a problem, but only once or twice.  This time, the problem had emerged only in the second command window.

Was that the cause of the problem?  It seemed that I'd have to wait until the next time I ran CHKDSK /R to see if I got the same issue again.  At present, the solution seemed to be that, if I got that weird crashing in the first stage of disk checking, or if a partition that had just passed CHKDSK was now being reported as corrupt, I should just reboot and take another look, using either GParted or the Windows 7 DVD.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Windows 7: Adding Hotmail as Default Email in Firefox 8.0.1

I was using Firefox 8.0.1 in Windows 7.  (Apparently these instructions would also work for Firefox 3.0.)  I was looking at a webpage containing an email address.  I clicked on the email link and got a dialog saying this:

Launch Application

This link needs to be opened with an application.
Send to:
Yahoo! Mail

Choose an Application

Hotmail was not on the list.  But I wanted to use Hotmail.  To find a solution, I did a search and wound up with some advice on the process.  I decided to save a writeup of the advice here because it took me a while to find it.

The advice was to type "about:config" in the Firefox address bar, hit Enter, type "gecko" into the Filter box, and double-click on the first item on the list.  This was the item called "gecko.handlerService.allowRegisterFromDifferentHost."  Double-clicking on it put it into boldface and changed its value from false to true.  Then I closed the about:config tab.  I went back to the address bar and typed this command, all on a single line:


and then I hit Enter.  This gave me a bar at the top with the question, "Add Hotmail ( as an application for mailto links?"  I clicked on "Add Application."  That gave me a blank screen.  I went to Tools > Options > Applications.  There were a bunch of items listed there.  I went down the Content Type column until I found "mailto."  I selected it.  This gave me a drop-down menu on the right side.  I selected the "Use Hotmail" option and clicked OK.

I went back to the webpage where I saw that email link.  I clicked on that link.  This opened up the Hotmail sign-in webpage.  I signed in.  Hotmail immediately started an email addressed to that email address.  I composed and sent an email.  It seemed to go OK.  Problem solved.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Windows 7: Tweaked Installation: Latest Version

The time came to reinstall Windows 7. This post copies and pastes text from previous posts on this subject, with additions and corrections as needed. (I used this same writeup for later installations, and have modified some of its points accordingly.)  The posts I drew especially from were these:

Note:  there are quickie Windows 7 installation pages.  The focus here is on a tweaked installation, i.e., one that addresses lots of small issues and needs along with the general-purpose installation.  The steps here seemed pretty much the same for 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

The first steps I took in the installation process were as follows:
  • After booting with Ubuntu 10.10 (using the "Try Ubuntu" not "Install Ubuntu" option), I went into System > Administration > GParted Partition Editor. That version of Ubuntu used GParted 0.5.1.  I'd had problems with Ubuntu 11.10, for this purpose, with its apparently newer version of GParted.  If the Ubuntu Live CD had not worked, a bootable USB tool might have been an alternative.  In GParted, I deleted the hard drive partition containing the previous version and created a new NTFS partition.  This worked better than using the partition creation option in the Windows install process.  The partition size was 100GB.  My previous Win7 installations had been about 45GB and then 70GB, but I found the extra space helpful, even though I did not store data on drive C.
  • I installed Windows 7 from the CD into the newly emptied partition. My upgrade version required me to install my full copy of WinXP first, and then install Win7.  During installation, I set a password and instructed the computer to go ahead and install updates.  After the installation, my former Windows XP install had been packaged into C:\Windows.old.  I deleted that.
  • My other drive partitions were already created and labeled.  I had used GParted for that too.  I had to change the drive letters for some.  To do that, I went into Start > search for diskmgmt.msc.
  • I verified that I had only my Administrator account and the Guest account.  This was in Start > Control Panel > View by Small Icons > User Accounts > Manage another account (alternately, Start > Run > control userpasswords2, when I would add Run to the Start Menu (below)).  This way, the changes that I made would all be made to the same account.
  • I turned off User Account Control:  Start > search for UAC > Change User Account Control settings > Never notify.
  • I went to Start > Computer to open Windows Explorer.  I navigated to my INSTALL partition, where I had saved the various programs and drivers that I would be installing.  There were quite a few of these; I made a point of copying stuff from installation CDs to this partition whenever possible, so as to simplify reinstallation.  I also named the folders so that the things to install first would be first in the list, such as "01 Motherboard Drivers."  I had to do some of these (especially installing ethernet drivers and having the router and modem configured) before the Internet connection would work.  I also wanted to have my other hardware drivers (for e.g., the display) in place before Microsoft's Windows Update started detecting optional software and drivers to install; these were drivers that I had previously worked with, so I knew these worked.  The display software took care of most configuration automatically.  For the rest, I went into Start > Control Panel > Display > Change display settings.
  • I connected the Internet cable and went to Start > Control Panel > Windows Update.  I selected all language updates and right-clicked to hide them, and installed the rest.  I re-ran Windows Update until there were no more updates to be had. This brought Microsoft Security Essentials along as free and easy antivirus.  At first, I let the updates run automatically.  Later, I changed Control Panel > Windows Update to a manual setting, to prevent the updater from rebooting the machine inconveniently.  Updates continued to install, requiring occasional reboots, while I proceeded down this list.
  • Somehow, I wound up with two Windows 7 entries on the initial Windows Boot Manager screen.  To get rid of one, I followed advice and went into Start > search > msconfig > Boot tab > select the one that is not the default OS > Delete > Apply > OK.
  • Windows Defender. The Microsoft updates gave me a dialog, on reboot, that said, "This program is turned off." I knew from my previous installation that I might keep on seeing that dialog every time I rebooted.  There were many suggestions on how to get rid of it, and some worked for some people, but none worked for others, including me.
  • I ran Ultimate Windows Tweaker 2.2 (UWT) (saved as a portable app in my Start Menu) and tweaked a number of items, including:  System Performance (enable support for 4GB of RAM on 32-bit Windows OS; Disable Tablet PC Input service); Network Tweaks (disable auto-discovery of media contents in shared network by Windows Media Player); Internet Explorer (uncheck "Open first home page when IE starts"; uncheck "Notify when download completes"); and Additional Tweaks (uncheck "Show 'Search ...'"; show "Take Ownership" and "Move To Folder..."; remove "-Shortcut" suffix for new shortcuts). TweakNow PowerPack 2010 was an alternative to UWT.
  • I now had a "Take Ownership" right-click context menu option in Windows Explorer.  I right-clicked on the top-level folders, for each drive in my system, and selected that Take Ownership option.  This didn't work for the ones that had padlock icons on them, but it seemed to work for the rest.
  • While in Windows Explorer, I right-clicked on each partition (e.g., drive D) and selected Properties > Customize > Optimize this folder for Documents > Also apply this template to all subfolders.  That way, all of my folders would display the same way; there would not be different column headings, in Windows Explorer, for music or picture folders.  The Customize tab was not visible on drive C.  Apparently it would also not have been available if I had been been approaching the other partitions (D, E ...) through Libraries or through some view other than via Windows Explorer > Computer > Drive D (or E, etc.).
  • I made some adjustments in Windows Explorer, under its  Organize option.  One was to go into Organize > Layout > turn on Menu Bar, turn off Details pane.  (Navigation pane was already on.)  I also went into Organize > Folder and Search Options.  There, in the View tab, my changes included show hidden files, empty drives, extensions, and protected operating system files.
  • In the navigation pane of Windows Explorer, I wanted to get rid of Favorites and Homegroup.  The Windows 7 Navigation Pane Customizer appeared to provide this easily.  Previously, I had used the following manual approach instead:  I went to Start > Run > regedit and went to two different locations.  For Favorites, it was HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder.  For Homegroup, it was HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93}\ShellFolder.  In both, the first step was to set Permissions so that I could make the change.  To do that, I right-clicked on Permissions > Administrators > Full Control.  If necessary to make that happen, I went on into Advanced > Owner tab > change owner to me and click "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects" > Apply.  With that taken care of, I could OK out of that dialog.  So now, as advised, I could right-click on Shell Folder > Attributes > Modify.  Both values were changed slightly.  For the former, the desired value was a9400100; for the latter, it was b094010c.  64-bit Windows 7 would require me to do exactly the same thing in a second location.  For Favorites, that location was HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Classes\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder.  For Homegroup, it was HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Classes\CLSID\{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93}\ShellFolder.
  • I ran the Win7RegEdit.reg or the Win7RegEdit-x64.exe file to automate a number of tweaks.
  • I installed Classic Shell, to change the look and some functions of the Windows 7 Start Menu and Windows Explorer to what I considered the more efficient form of Windows XP.  After installing this, I right-clicked on the Start button > Settings > Customize Start Menu > Backup > Load from XML File to restore my previously saved configuration settings for Classic Shell.  This enabled my customized, shared Start Menu.
  • I right-clicked on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen and chose small icons.
  • At this early stage, while messing around with various tasks, I also installed Google Chrome so that I would have a fast alternative browser in lieu of IE 9.  I also installed recommended extensions by going into Chrome's Options > Personal Stuff > Sign In.  Within a few minutes after entering my Sync password, Chrome had installed my previously installed settings.  It also brought Google Earth.  Earth didn't have a way of saving settings, so I used my previously tweaked installation on another computer as a guide to how I wanted it set up.
  • LockHunter.  This very useful bit of freeware would unlock files and drives that did not seem to be in use, but that Windows would nonetheless refuse to move or delete.
  • Bullzip PDF Printer.  Actually my default PDF printer, despite having Acrobat.  Simple, fast, reliable.  My customized Start Menu already had portable PDF readers, in case I needed to read a program's PDF read-me during this installation phase.
  • I created a shortcut to an administrator command (CMD) window on the desktop or Start Menu.  To do this, in Windows Explorer I used File > New > Shortcut.  The target location was C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe.  I right-clicked on that shortcut and went into the Shortcut tab > Advanced > Run as administrator.  I only had to do this during the first installation.  After that, it was portable to other machines as part of my customized Start Menu.
Now I was getting closer to the point of installing a boatload of programs.  The one other thing to take care of first was to do a tour of those Control Panel items that I had not already adjusted by using the .reg file and other steps mentioned above, and that were not better addressed in other steps described later in this post:
  • AutoPlay:  uncheck "Use AutoPlay for all media and devices."  Turn it back on for video CDs and DVDs.  Set everything else to "Take no action."
  • Device Manager:  check any items showing exclamation marks in yellow triangles.
  • Indexing Options:  Modify > uncheck everything, because I used other programs and didn't need this slowing down my system.  This left only Start Menu and Users on the list.
  • Internet Options:  best done by starting Internet Explorer (IE).  (Windows Updates had installed IE 9.)  There, open all desired home webpages in separate tabs, signing into each as needed.  Then go into IE's Tools > Internet options (Alt-T O) > General tab > Home Page > Use current.  (After the first time, I was able to save these URLs in a text file and just copy and paste them into that Home Page space.)  Also in General tab:  Browsing history > Settings > Move folder > drive X (BACKROOM).  (Ideally, the Win7RegEdit.reg file (above) would have already taken care of this.  Otherwise, I would save this step for last, since it required a reboot.)  Also in General tab:  Search > Settings > Search Settings > Find more search providers.  Also in General tab:  Tabs > Settings > adjust as desired.  Next, Security tab > click on Trusted Sites > Custom Level > Scripting section (near the end of the list) > Allow programmatic clipboard access > Enable.  I saved and closed the options dialog.  I navigated to and played a video, so as to trigger the process of installing Adobe Flash Player if needed.
  • Notification Area Icons (continuing, here, with the remaining Control Panel items):  Check "Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar."
  • Personalization:  I wanted the Windows Classic theme, Desert colors.  A website offered a bunch of them, including that one.  I downloaded and unzipped it.  That gave me Desert.themepack.  I right-clicked and unzipped that and got Desert.theme.  I put a copy of that in C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.  I closed the Personalization window and then opened it again, and Desert was there.  I clicked on it.
  • Power Options > Create a Power Plan > model it on High Performance > Change advanced power settings.  Adjust as desired.
  • Program Updates:  this was for the annoying InstallShield Update Manager.  It only became available after certain programs were installed.  I went into its Update Settings tab and selected "The InstallShield Update Manager will not automatically check for updates."  An alternative was to root it out, perhaps as advised in my previous post
  • Programs and Features:  Turn Windows features on or off > turn off Games, Indexing Service, Tablet PC Components, Windows Gadget Platform.
  • System:  On the left side:  System Protection > Hardware tab > Device Installation Settings > Yes, do this automatically.  Advanced tab > Performance > Settings > Advanced > Change > Uncheck "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" and set No Paging File for all drives, with two exceptions:  a 16MB (minimum and maximum) paging file on drive C, and a paging file of 2000 MB (minimum) to 4000 MB (or more) (maximum) on drive X (BACKROOM), where it will not be added to any backups.  (It is necessary to click the Set button after each change.  After exiting this part, go back in to see if amounts recommended or allocated have changed.  A high minimum supposedly saves the system from having to recreate a file of that size.)  System Protection tab > select each drive, one by one > Configure > adjust Disk Space Usage as needed.  In the middle of the list on this System page:  Windows Experience Index:  View and print detailed performance and system information (for future reference).  Towards the bottom: Activate Windows.
  • Windows Firewall:  verify that it's on (unless some other firewall has been installed).
I then began to install my long list of programs, working down through the list of executables that I had saved in the Installed Programs folder (above).  I almost always installed to the default location.  Doing so meant that the shortcut to each program, already sorted into the desired location in the customized Start Menu, would come alive.  In other words, the icon associated with that shortcut would take on color and shape when it became operational.  So then I could easily see if some particular Start Menu program had not yet been reinstalled or was no longer working.

At about this time, I began getting the irritating "Could not find this item" error message.  I rectified it by running a batch file, which I also built into the Win7RegEdit.reg file (above).  I postponed making an Acronis drive image of the installation until I was done with my list of settled programs.  (I kept the installation files for my various programs on my Install partition (drive W), in two separate folders:  after 01 Motherboard Drivers and utilities and 02 Programs Needed Early, these were in 03 Standard Programs and 04 Programs Not Yet Installed (with a few in 05 Run in Virtual PC and 06 One Machine Only (i.e., not installed on both computers).)  Among the standard programs I installed, the ones that may call for commentary included these:
  • Adobe Acrobat Professional.  There were many apparently good freeware or cheapware PDF editing alternatives, but I already had this one.  As I was installing this and other programs, I configured them and checked for updates.
  • Cool Edit 2000.  For audio editing.  Not available anymore:  bought up by Adobe.  It worked fairly well until I installed an Adobe Acrobat update.  I tried fixing it by right-clicking on C:\Program Files\Cool2000\cool2000.exe > Troubleshoot compatibility > Try recommended settings > Start the program.  This didn't work.  There were indications that Adobe was now deliberately torpedoing CoolEdit.  But then, later, it did.  Not sure why.  An alternative was to run it in Windows Virtual PC, which would provide a virtual copy of Windows 98 running within Microsoft's free Virtual PC program.
  • Audacity was a good freeware alternative to Cool Edit.  The version I installed was 2.0.  I had found that 1.2 would not do very well with recording streaming audio in Windows 7 (below).  But I ultimately wound up using Debut for streaming audio.  So I could have just kept a portable version of Audacity on my customized Start Menu, avoiding the need to reinstall it.
  • Copernic Desktop Search.  I configured it to store its cache on drive X (BACKROOM).  I used it for searches of content within files.  I used Everything for fast searches of file names (opened via Shift-Esc, just like Ava Find).  In Windows Explorer, therefore, I right-clicked on each drive > Properties > General tab > uncheck "Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties" and indicated that this applied to subfolders as well.
  • Firefox and recommended extensions and preferred themes.  I had saved a list of extensions to install using the Infolister extension, and I used that list to search for the ones to install, though I hoped that something like Firefox Sync or FEBE would eventually prove reliable enough to automate this.  I had saved settings from at least some extensions (e.g., Tab Mix Plus, Session Manager) and was able to use those to speed up the reinstallation process somewhat.  Firefox still didn't have a way to save settings, so I had to go back through its tabs and set things to taste.  One setting that was easy to overlook was to brighten up the color of visited links a bit, so that it was easier to distinguish which Google hits I had previously viewed.  For that, I went into Tools > Options > Content tab > Fonts & Colors > Colors.  As with Internet Explorer, I went to, tried to play a video, downloaded the Adobe Flash plugin, and installed it.  I did the same also in Chrome; its Adobe Flash installer applied to Opera as well.
  • Microsoft Office 2003.  Microsoft was no longer making it easy to figure out which updates were needed, but I had previously developed a list, downloaded them manually, and set up a batch file to install them one by one.  So I ran that batch file.  I ran the Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard to restore previously saved settings.  These, like the settings for some Firefox add-ons (above), were saved in a Saved Settings folder on the INSTALL drive (X).  I also ran the Auto-Correct macro to restore Autocorrect entries.  I also installed some add-ons to enhance Office 2003 functionality.  These steps provoked some more Windows updates.
  • Thunderbird for email.  I had found the installed version to be more stable than the portable one.  At this point, T-bird 5.0 was not supporting the several extensions I had collected (to extract attachments, delete duplicate emails, and export emails to other formats), so I decided to stick with version 3.1.13.  I closed Thunderbird and, inspired by my previous efforts with Thunderbird, went into Start > Run and typed "thunderbird.exe -ProfileManager" (without quotes).  I chose Create Profile > Ray > Choose Folder and selected D:\Thunderbird\Profile.  (I wanted my email and address book to be on a data partition, not on drive C, so that they would be regularly backed up with other data.)  In the Choose User Profile dialog, I clicked on Delete Profile and deleted the default profile, so that Ray was the only one appearing in the Choose User Profile dialog.  This deleted the contents of the default profile at C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles, but did not actually delete the default folder.  I clicked on Start Thunderbird.  T-bird came up with an error message:
  • Server not found could not be found. Please check the name and try again.
    I started a search on this, but then decided to just close that tab and see if Thunderbird was working.  My inbox, archives, etc. all seemed to be there; the address book was available; I was able to send and receive email.  Mission accomplished.  I added the ability to read newgroups by going into Thunderbird > Tools > Account Settings > Account Actions > Add Other Account > Newgroup Account > Next.  I entered a username and a fake email address, the latter because I wasn't sure yet if I wanted to get email from group members.  The Newsgroup Server was  That created the account, which I called Mozilla Newsgroup.  I went into Server Settings for that account and insured that its port was 119.  I clicked on Mozilla Newsgroup in Thunderbird's folders pane and specified as the newgroup I wanted to subscribe to.  I hadn't used newsgroups much since Google had bought and ruined the old DejaNews, but I had heard that Google Groups might someday become useful again.  If I got interested in another approach to newsgroups, there was also the option of subscribing to a usenet server, which would probably involve paying a fee.
  • Glary Registry Repair.  I put a link to this in my Start Menu > Programs > Startup folder so that it would start automatically whenever I started the computer.  In perhaps a year's use, it had seemed to be a highly rated, non-destructive registry cleaner.
  • Freeware PDF Unlocker.  Primarily because some PDF authors put security on their PDFs that prevented me from adding a note indicating where I got the document, and other information needed for academic citations.  Later, I decided I was getting better results from
  • Google Earth.  I added a registry hack to my Win7RegEdit.reg file (above) to tweak Google Earth.  This tweak automated the setting of the cache size to 1GB of memory and 2GB of disk space.  It also moved the cache to another partition.  Moving it, I hoped, would increase speed, since another drive would be handling some of the data.  It would also remove the potentially large cache from backup images of my program drive.  Before this tweak, I had a 131MB dbCache.dat file (plus dbCache.dat.index and others) in C:\Users\Ray\AppData\LocalLow\Google\GoogleEarth.  After this tweak, upon restarting Google Earth, I had a file of that size in the target folder I had created at X:\Cache\Google Earth.  I browsed in GE to Beijing, and on to Moscow, and then sent GE slowly wandering eastward over the Russian forest, and yet dbCache.dat did not increase in size.  I closed GE, removed dbCache.dat from C:\Users\Ray\AppData\LocalLow\Google\GoogleEarth, and restarted GE.  Functionality remained.  The tweak appeared to work.
  • TClockEx.  To provide customized date and time readout in the system tray.  My preferred format:  ddd, MM d, yyyy - h:mm:ss tt.  For a 64-bit version, see Stoic Joker's adaptation.  To make sure the computer's time was accurate, I used a registry edit to add Internet sources and choose NIST.
  • WinRAR.  I had 7zip as a portable, but was beginning to like this more than that.  Its warnings said it was only good for 40 days, and I hadn't yet been using it that long, so I wasn't sure what would happen at that point.  But it sure did have a lot of people downloading it.
  • I had installed BinManager, as a way to automatically empty out items in the Recycle Bin after they had sat there for a while.  But I couldn't find a way to configure it.  I uninstalled it and tried Autodelete instead.  I wasn't happy with that either.  Eventually I just added this line to a batch file that ran weekly:  start "" emptyrecyclebin.exe.
  • I finally broke down and bought a copy of Debut for screen capture.  I just hadn't found any good freeware.  CamStudio worked sometimes, not other times.  NCH Software, creators of Debut, were excessively touchy about licensing.  Reinstalling Windows on the same computer, where I simply decided to change the name of the computer, was enough to prevent me from being able to use my paid copy of their software.
A few programs worth mentioning in the area of noninstallation or uninstallation:
  • Adobe Reader, which must have been pre-installed by ASUS.  I didn't need it, with Acrobat installed.  But then I decided it wasn't hurting anything, and I'd have it if Acrobat malfunctioned, so I left it alone.
  • I decided not to install software for my digital camera.  I found that Windows Explorer could see the contents of that device as soon as I plugged it in, without the need for bloatware.
  • I installed Virtual CloneDrive so that I would have the capability of mounting an ISO image as though it were a mounted CD, without having to actually burn the ISO to a CD and then put the CD in my CD drive.  Unfortunately, there was no way to keep it from starting with Windows.  I used it too rarely to have that extra clutter, and therefore thought about uninstalling it and just reinstalling when I needed it.  It created "BD-ROM Drive (F:)."  In Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc), it showed up as a second CD-ROM drive, and its Properties called it "Elby Clonedrive SCSI CdRom Device," whereas its Properties > Hardware tab > Properties in Windows Explorer said it was a "NEC DVD_RW ND-3550A ATA Device." I went into Control Panel > Programs and Features and saw that "Elby" was apparently shorthand for "Elaborate Bytes," maker of VCD.  (Note that VLC was also able to play videos saved in ISO format, without any need for mounting them as separate virtual drives.)
Next, I set up various scheduled items:
  • Defragmentation.  Start > Run > dfrgui.exe > Configure schedule > Daily (so as to run in small, relatively non-bothersome tasks, without having to keep the computer on at night) > Select all disks.  But later, when I found dfrgui.exe choking on a USB drive, I went back to Smart Defrag.
  • Daily and other scheduled batch files, including an internal backup batch file that used a Robocopy script.  These would run programs, open Firefox tabs, or otherwise do things that I needed to do at a certain time every day, or on a certain day of the week, month, etc.  These scheduled items could be exported from Task Scheduler and imported into new installations, so they would not have to be re-entered manually.
  • Create System Restore Points at regular intervals.  I downloaded the Instant_Restore_Point.vbs script and added a line to my daily batch file, so that I would have at least one such restore point each day.
Finally, I turned to miscellaneous tweaks and adjustments:
  • Installing the programs listed above gave me a large number of duplicative Start Menu entries.  (My customized Start Menu, saved on D, already had links to those programs, sorted into various categories for easy access.  When I reinstalled the programs, those already-sorted shortcuts worked again, so I didn't need the new ones that the programs had installed on the desktop and in the top level of my Start Menu > Programs.)  To get rid of the duplicates, I put all the new shortcuts into a separate folder and ran a DoubleKiller comparison of that folder against my customized Start Menu.  Very few had the same size and CRC numbers.  Many had the same names, but I could not have any global certainty that the ones already existing in the Start Menu were still working.  Ultimately, I just manually re-sorted many of these new shortcuts, overwriting the old ones in the event of conflict.
  • To get windows to stay in the size and position where I put them, I tried an approach that had sometimes worked for me:  right-click on the title (top) bar of a Window.  Choose "Size."  Drag the window and its edges somewhere and then let it go.  If it doesn't respond, trying using arrow keys.  Then click on the top right X to close the window.  I almost thought that approach was working for me.  Some people said that FileBox eXtender or WindowManager would fix this.  At this point, I was just beginning to try ShellFolderFix for this purpose.
  • To prepare Audacity to record streaming audio, I took the advice to go into Control Panel > Sound > Recording tab > right-click anywhere in the white space > Show Disabled Devices > right-click on Stereo Mix > Enable.  Right-click on Stereo Mix again > Set as Default Device.  Then I went into Audacity > View > Toolbars > make sure Device Toolbar is checked.  The location of that toolbar apparently shifted, from one version to the next.  In my version, it appeared slightly to the right of the center; in others, it ran across the top line.  It apparently reflected the same thing as in Edit > Preferences > Devices.  The Device Toolbar had drop-down boxes listing various speakers and microphones.  There, in the first box, I selected Windows DirectSound, and in the third box I selected Primary Sound Capture Driver.  (Some versions of Audacity apparently combined the two into one.)  This approach had worked previously, but did not work on this new installation; I was not able to record streaming audio. Back in Control Panel > Sound, I could see the level meter moving on my headset's microphone; the mike was picking up what was being played in the headset's ear speakers.  But the Stereo Mix item was not showing any such action.  I tried the approach of using a cable to connect the computer's Line In and Line Out (or, on my computer, Front Speaker Out) ports, but that didn't work either.  It seemed to be a hardware problem.  So this was still a work in progress.
  • Shellstyle.dll.  I had modified this file to hide the command bar (i.e., the folder band) in Windows Explorer.  Now I needed to put it into C:\Windows\System32.  Despite taking ownership of the System32 folder, I still had to take ownership of the Shellstyle.dll file within it, in order to replace it with this other Shellstyle.dll file.  Later I decided that I sometimes needed the folder band.  I had renamed the old one to be shellstyle.old, so I could presumably have gone back if I'd had a burning need.
  • To get Windows to stop asking if I was sure I wanted to delete files, I right-clicked the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop > Properties > uncheck "Display delete confirmation dialog."
  • To make Internet Explorer stop offering to "Speed up browsing by disabling add-ons," I took the advice of Pete, who posted a comment on my previous post.  Pete's advice was to go to Start > Run > gpedit.msc > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components.  In the left pane, under Windows Components -- not a subfolder, but a sort of subentry, made more visible by double-clicking again on Windows Components -- there was an All Settings option.  I clicked on that.  This opened a long list of items in the right pane.  One was "Disable add-on performance notifications." I double-clicked on it and selected Enabled and then bailed out.  I hoped that would solve the problem.  It didn't.
The last step was to synchronize the new Win7 installation with other computers.  This time around, I was not having the IP Address Conflict problem I'd had previously.  I just had to do basic networking and set up GoodSync.